Kyoto textile maker to increase classes for foreigners

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

A leading artisan textile maker that offers training courses in English is expanding its classes to meet demand from students overseas.

Kawashima Selkon Textiles Co. said Monday the planned new session would complement the two it already holds annually for foreigners and will likely begin next year.

“We’ve received an increasing number of inquiries about the school in recent years,” said Yuki Ariga, spokeswoman for the Kyoto-based maker of traditional and artisan textiles.

Whenever the company advertises that it is accepting students, “people keep applying until the last minute to the deadline, even after the number has reached the limit,” she said.

The company takes about 10 foreign students twice a year, in fall and spring, at its operations center in Kyoto. The English-language courses range in length from 10 days to three months. The school teaches traditional textile techniques, such as how to dye and weave by hand.

Its popularity has grown, since not many textile schools apparently exist. Demand has surged in the past two or three years, the company said. The fees for a three-month course range from ¥200,000 to ¥300,000. Many students come from northern Europe, since it has partner schools in Sweden and Finland and the region has a rich textile culture. It also runs classes in Japanese for local students.

Kawashima Selkon Textiles was founded in 1843 and makes products such as “obi” (waist sashes) used in kimono and stage curtains woven by craftsmen. It is a member of Lixil Corp. Group.